I have had COVID. Why should I get vaccinated?

UAB’s Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., explains the importance of getting vaccinated after having COVID, which vaccine to get and when to get it. 

Editor's Note: The information published in this story is accurate at the time of publication. Always refer to uab.edu/uabunited for UAB's current guidelines and recommendations relating to COVID-19.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more than 36 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States. 

Those who have had COVID-19 may be wondering whether they should get vaccinated. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, explains why those people who had COVID-19 should get vaccinated, which vaccine to get and how long to wait before getting the vaccine.  

Q: If I have had COVID, should I still get vaccinated? 

A: Absolutely. Even before vaccines were available, we were seeing not a small number of reinfections in young people who had previously been infected.  

We are not surprised by this because, when you get COVID-19, your body does make antibodies; but those antibodies are not enough to keep you safe in the long run.   

Remember, COVID-19 is a common cold virus that has gone crazy, and you know you are not immune to the common cold, unfortunately. So, if you have had COVID-19, you are vulnerable to getting it again, and getting the Delta strain.   

Q: Which vaccine should I get? 

A: It does not really matter which vaccine you get. You can get one of the mRNA vaccines such as Moderna or Pfizer, or you can get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

They are all working well against the Delta variant, which is the one we are most worried about.  

Q: How long should I wait to get the vaccine after having COVID-19?   

A: Anytime you feel that you are well past the acute event of having COVID-19.  

If you have COVID-19, you are typically sick for a couple of weeks and you start to feel better within three to four weeks. Once you feel as if you are back to your usual self, you can go ahead and get vaccinated — you do not have to count the days or wait.  

The only exception is, if you were treated with a monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma when you had COVID-19, then you should wait 90 days.    

Otherwise, once you start to feel better, you should get vaccinated to protect yourself, and others, from getting COVID-19 in the future.   

To see more UAB experts discuss COVID-19 and vaccines, click here.